Malcolm Roughead OBE, (Chief Executive, VisitScotland)
As we approach Brexit, the quality of Scotland’s welcome is more important than ever as we work to reassure our visitors – especially our European friends – that we are open for business and that we continue to offer that famous Scottish welcome.
Europe provides seven out of ten of Scotland’s key markets. In 2017 1.9 million Europeans visited Scotland, or, put another way, 13% of Scotland’s international and domestic visitors, spending £1.1 billion.
A very important market and perhaps not surprisingly we know that there are jitters amongst our key European markets of France and Germany.
The German market appears to be the most concerned about the impact of Brexit – particularly in the context of the end of March this year. There has been at least one article in a German travel trade publication advising Germans to avoid travelling to the UK in late March and enquiries to VisitScotland about the possible impact have been more prevalent amongst German trade contacts.
VisitScotland is working with partners to provide messages of reassurance, alongside campaign activity keeping Scotland’s inspirational holiday experiences firmly in the spotlight amongst these important visitors.
Scotland’s welcome and outstanding visitor experience will be there for all to see at the SEC in Glasgow on 10 and 11 April.
At this year’s VisitScotland Expo, Scotland’s premier business-to-business travel trade event, we will once again be bringing international buyers together with companies within Scottish tourism, who will showcase their products and services to this highly influential group of global contacts.
It’s something we’ve been doing for 40 years and each year it gets stronger and stronger. This year the flagship event will see tour operators and travel agents from more than 30 countries meet with over 300 Scottish tourism businesses.
Tourism is a truly global industry, where visitors have more choice of destinations than ever before. VisitScotland will keep making the compelling case for visitors to choose to spend their time and money here in Scotland.
It helps that we are an international organisation with 22 different nationalities working across the organisation.
VisitScotland is supporting our non-UK EU staff, who will be affected by Brexit. The implications of Brexit also mean that we need to consider what actions we must take as a business to continue to attract and retain talent regardless of nationality – the fact is that the EU provides us with a valuable pool of talent and we need to do what we can to continue that trend.
Successful National Tourism Organisations need to be global in their outlook, reach and in the composition of the people it employs. These are all factors in VisitScotland’s success and we intend to keep it that way.